Tuesday, November 13, 2012

How to Protect Your Digital Dental Records from Computer Malfunctions & Disasters Outside Your Control

Our condolence to people affected by recent earthquake and hurricane Sandy.  As a technology solution provider to dental healthcare professionals who rely on our products and services to manage practice data electronically, we would like to use this opportunity to discuss disaster recovery plan to help you better protect your data.  The concept presented in this article is applicable not just to the data that ClearDent generates and manages (charts, financials, documents, and digital images), but also to ANY other software that you use at home and at work.

According to a recent study by Symantec, 57% of small businesses do not have adequate or any disaster protections.  Therefore, in addition to damages that are potentially caused by natural disasters, even regular wear and tear on computers can create catastrophic consequences, such as irrecoverable data loss.

On the other hand, it is very easy to create backup copies with digital dental records, much more so than you can with paper charts.   Therefore, we strongly suggest that you take advantage of this and create a proper back plan, which protects your invaluable data from natural disasters and regular wear and tear.

1. Invest in an Online Backup System
In addition to manual, on-site backup to external hard drives or USB keys, having an online back that stores your data offsite and encrypted is crucial.

For ClearDent users, we have a simple, easy-to-setup, and cost effective online backup system – ClearVault.  Starting at $19.95 for the first GB and $4.95 for each additional GB, you can backup your ClearDent database, digital images and even other 3rd party software data.  Further, ClearVault stores yearly auditable copies and meets legal healthcare record retention requirement in Canada.

There are, of course, other online backup systems.  These 3rd party online backup systems can also be used to backup ClearDent, but unlike ClearVault, which automatically knows where to look for all the data that ClearDent generates and manages, you need to be conscious and careful to ensure these 3rd party systems are backing up the “right” data.  Otherwise, you are effectively not getting what you paid for.  More importantly, you need to ensure these 3rd party systems also have a data retention policy meeting or exceeding your provincial healthcare record retention requirement.

2. Share the Plan with Your Staff
Think about possible natural or man-made emergency situation and establish your disaster contingency plan.  Discuss or share with your staff so everyone could follow its protocol when something happens.

American Dental Association has an informative manual on emergency planning & disaster recovery in the dental office.

3. Utilize Social Media to Connect with Your Patients
More and more people look for information online and people would do so more when crisis hits.

Social media such as Facebook and Twitter are accessible from a smart phone or a computer, and it is a great tool to let patients know about your situation in addition to regular phone calls. Images above are some of the samples that Facebook and Twitter posts from various New York dental offices posted during hurricane Sandy.

So, does your practice have a disaster recovery plan?  

Please feel free to contact a ClearDent representative by emailing info@cleardent.com or call 1-866-253-2748.  We’d be more than happy to give our advice for FREE.  Or, if you are an existing ClearDent customer and would like to get more information about ClearVault, your dedicated ClearDent consultant will be more than happy to provide them.

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